Haider was drunk before fatal car crash

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 17, 2008

The austrian far-right politician who died in a car crash last Saturday was drunk at the wheel, his spokesman has admitted.

Joerg Haider was killed after driving his car off the road near Klagenfurt in southern Austria.

His spokesman Stefan Petzner confirmed on Wednesday that the alcohol level in Mr Haider's blood was three times the legal limit.

Austrian police also confirmed that the 58-year-old had been driving at twice the speed limit.

Mr Haider was the governor of the province of Carinthia and leader of the Alliance for the Future of Austria, a break-away from the Freedom Party, which he had formerly led. The two parties together gained almost a third of the votes in the Austrian general elections two weeks ago.

Mr Haider, a populist anti-immigration politician who voiced his sympathy for Nazi policies, had never held a ministerial position at the national level, but when his party was part of the coalition in 2000, Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna in protest.

Since Mr Haider's death on Saturday, the internet has been awash with conspiracy theories that the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency was tailing Mr Haider and was involved in his death. Austrian police have said there was no sign of foul play.

There were concerns that far-right extremists would rally at Mr Haider's funeral.

Ariel Muzikant, president of the Austrian Jewish Community, told the JC that the "community is not commenting on Mr Haider's death".

Last updated: 6:10pm, October 16 2008